Reviews

A House Safe For Tigers


A House Safe For Tigers

Writing and performing since 2015, A House Safe For Tigers was created by two seasoned musicians. You can easily hear this in the music. The songs  come off mature but poppy. The album feels like that of classic vinyl we grew up with. Sweet and dark, the record gets you in the mode of remembering parts of your life you may have forgotten. The phases of the record go through classic rock to a more current fuzz garage rock and plenty in between. All in all, we need more albums like The Space Between, and more bands like A House Safe For Tigers.

Indie duo A House Safe for Tigers has released its self-titled debut album through Headless Actor Records. Borrowing its name from an obscure Lee Hazlewood soundtrack, A House Safe for Tigers has garnered accolades for its reflective, haunting, yet melodious songcraft.

“About four or five months before we began recording, I had bought a ukulele and had written about five songs on it,” said Costantino. “The first song I played for Brandon was ‘Ann Marie.’ Right from the start, he had some great ideas and helpful criticisms. The idea of building the songs from the ground up and seeing what direction they would take was really exciting to me. The project began as a five song EP, but quickly grew into a full-length.”

In theory, the pairing of vocalist/songwriter Mark Costantino and multi-instrumentalist Brandon 
Delmont shouldn’t work. The two musicians come from seemingly disparate backgrounds. Costantino’s last group, The Exit Strategy, earned praise for its raw, post-hardcore recordings and sweat- soaked live performances. In its review, Pitchfork singled out Costantino’s vocals for “adding a youthful, spirited feel to the tracks.” Meanwhile, Delmont earned his stripes as the drummer for Mercury Rev side project Odiorne, a synth-heavy, symphonic-rock group that recorded with famed producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse, MGMT). Rubbing elbows with a producer described by Mojo as a “sonic visionary” clearly paid off for Delmont. 

After his tenure in Odiorne, Delmont opened 85 Charleston Studios in Buffalo, NY, and began lending his skills to new projects. Delmont’s ear for dreamy, ambient arrangements soon became his calling card and can be clearly heard on A House Safe for Tigers’ new LP. “We recorded Mark and his ukulele and vocals to a click track,” said Delmont. “Then it was just a matter of adding a million instruments to it, adding bridges, changing up some arrangements. and chord sequences. So, that’s how most of the songs took shape. Laying down the vocal melodies first was a super fun way to work.”

Recorded and mixed by Delmont, the LP features Costantino’s heart-struck tenor atop an audio bed of electric pianos, Mellotrons, chimes, and horns. While difficult to categorize, the music recalls the 
chamber pop of the High Llamas, the ethereal other-worldliness of Spiritualized, and soft melancholia of  Luna (who’s “I Want Everything” the band covers).

Costantino’s strongest influence was not musical, but rather familial. “My biggest inspiration is my six- year-old son, Anthony. He probably deserves a producer’s credit. He was constantly being forced to listen to the tracks as we were recording and was always brutally honest about whether he was ‘into’ a song or not.” 

While owing a debt to some past performers, A House Safe for Tigers has captured something original and compelling on its debut. Songs like “Ann Marie,” “Searchlights,” and the lead-off single “Evaporate,” are aural delights-memorable and contagious, while bearing fruit with each new listen.

A House Safe For Tigers – Shelf Life

A House Safe For Tigers – In The Willows

A House Safe For Tigers links: 
Band/Artist location – Buffalo, New York
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